Thursday, August 26, 2010

The struggle: “you feel damned if you do; you’re definitely damned if you don’t.”

College degree, no college degree. I’m already $20,000 in debt, so I may as well just do it. Don’t be afraid that she will reject you because you are at a different point in your life than she is: that could be why she likes you in the first place.

Focus Grasshopper. In the absence of a singular reason to ‘do’, I am constantly floundering between what I want to do, what I need to do, and what I should do. The compass point constantly changes, so the direction constantly sways accordingly. Set a point, braze it in place and follow the path.

Want to stay in San Francisco? Stay in San Francisco. Accepted at Davis: have an established life in San Francisco. Can’t commute, can’t commit.  

Be humble. You don’t know everything, far from it. You don’t know what direction to go in, time to ask for more help. The family helped as best they could understand, now its time to gather more perspective and keep learning, dammit.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We are so busy being elitist pricks about food, beer and wine, that we forget what makes them good in the first place.

Perhaps the key to a successful restaurant is simply making good food and drink available to the people that want it. Gastropub is the result of smashing two very humble concepts together into one very pretentious, made-up word. In San Francisco, establishments like the Monk’s Kettle, that call themselves a gastropub, routinely charge patrons exorbitant fees for everyday fare, ala the $15 burger at lunch. Now, while people may be convinced that these are little more than the rantings of a cost-excluded diner, I challenge any pub in SF to answer these questions:

As a public house, what kind of community do you hope to create by asking your patrons to spend $45 at lunch? Are you really a public house, or are you just another enclave for the beer-drinking elite?

At The Porter in Atlanta this week, I was given an 8 ounce pour of cask-conditioned Allagash Curieux for $5.50. That’s about $15 for a 750 mL quantity for a super rare variant on a rare-enough beer that the bottle-conditioned standard fetches the typical SF restaurant price of $22-$25. Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize that rent is high in this city, but why is it that we need to make great beer so incredibly cost-prohibitive that it becomes unaffordable to the people that can appreciate it?

The value proposition with wine is fairly easy, “pay me X dollars and get 4 glasses of wine that you can't find easily enough to justify not paying me 3-400% markup.” And thats how wine has been. Beer on the other hand, is still early enough in its formative stages that people are okay with going out and paying 3 times the price that the Whole Foods down the block charges, for two glasses. Why, people? And why, restaurateurs? Why are we creating an environment that says to people, “Good beer is only for those that can afford the costs of luxury?” when all one needs to do to prove it otherwise is visit another city?

Beer is so often seen as the antithesis of urban elitism. It’s a damned shame that our city, so lately renown for its smug snobbishness, can’t just leave this one alone. Instead, we need cicerones and $15 grass fed burgers to compliment lists of overpriced beers and pubs without the public. Perhaps we as retailers need to step back and ask ourselves what we are doing by charging what we charge and excluding whom we exclude. Do we really want our pubs to turn into beer-substituting wine bars, empty of character and full of rich assholes with too much money and not enough sense? Because what we lose are the rich communities that define themselves through the diversity of their membership and the commonality of a common drink.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Story of the Rooster and the Kitty.

There once was a farm in a beautiful land of plenty. This farm produced wonderful vegetables and was home to lots and lots of animals. There were cows and horses, pigs and sheep, dogs and goats. There was also a Rooster and a Kitty.  Now, most of the animals got along, the cows would graze with the sheep, the goats would mill about the yard while the pigs played in the mud. Kitty liked to visit all of the animals on the farm, and because she was friendly to all of the animals, she was loved by all of them.

The Rooster however, spent a lot of time on the roof of the barn and clucking about the yard. He would wake up the farm every morning, and he took a lot of pride in his work. After he crowed, he would spend the day telling all of the animals about crowing and waking up the farm. The other animals would always listen politely, and the Rooster thought this was why they liked him, so he clucked about crowing every day.

The Kitty was different though, she always listened politely like the other animals, and she would meow to the Rooster about things that the Rooster thought were very interesting and the Rooster loved to be around her because she made him feel special. So the Rooster started to cluck to the Kitty about more than just the sunrise, and the Kitty always listened.

The Rooster was full of ideas and thoughts, many of the about what it would be like to live off the farm. The Rooster thought that he was better than the other animals, because he would wake up the whole farm, so he thought they all needed him. He didn’t listen to the other animals when they asked him to take Sundays off and not wake up the farm. He did it anyway, because it was his job. So the other animals continued to be polite and the Rooster continued to wake up the farm on Sundays.

One day, the Kitty came to the Rooster with a look of concern. She told him about a conversation that the farmer had had with his wife. His wife, like all of the animals on the farm, was tired of waking up early on Sundays. Now, the farmer, who liked the Rooster said that he would give the Rooster a few more weeks to see if he would stop crowing on Sundays and his wife agreed. The Kitty said that she was worried about the Rooster because she really liked the Rooster, and the Rooster was flattered.

As the weeks went by, the Rooster spent his days waking up the farm and making his feathers pretty for Kitty and clucking about the importance of waking up the farm with the other animals. The animals were getting very tired of hearing his stories by now and had started to grumble. Kitty told Rooster this and that she was worried about the Rooster because she really liked the Rooster, and the Rooster was flattered. And he continued to crow on Sundays.

As time went on, the Kitty got more and more worried about the Rooster, because the Rooster kept crowing on Sundays and making the other animals mad. Sometimes, she would try as hard as she could to tell the Rooster how concerned she was, and these times, the Rooster would even get mad and snap at the Kitty. This made the Kitty very upset, but she continued to try anyway, because she loved the Rooster.

The Rooster didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know why the Kitty would say things to him that made him feel worried and concerned. As far as he knew he was doing the best job he could. It made him want to leave the farm and find another farm that would appreciate him more. The Rooster completely missed the point that everyone there wanted him to be a better Rooster, because he was part of the farm and the animals, though frustrated with him, like having him. But the Rooster wouldn’t listen.

So one Sunday morning, the Rooster crowed long and loud, until all of the animals were up and all of the lights in the farmhouse were on. Proud of himself, the Rooster began to preen his feathers and think about life off the farm. Soon, the Kitty came all the way up to the roof to see the Rooster, and she looked very worried. She pleaded with the Rooster to apologize to the farmer and tell him that this would be the last Sunday to crow. The Rooster got very mad at the Kitty, because he thought that he was better then the other animals and shouldn’t be given advice. He clucked very mean things at the Kitty, and she was heartbroken, because she loved the Rooster and he was saying these things to her.

While this was happening, the Rooster didn’t see the farmer get in the truck and drive off. But the Kitty saw him return later with a bag from the store. When the farmer opened the bag, the Kitty saw an alarm clock and a loaf of crusty bread. Panicking, she raced to the Rooster to try again to ask him to apologize, but the Rooster just ignored her. He also ignored the farmer collecting vegetables and getting out a large pot full of water. And as the farmer sharpened his butchering knife, the Rooster thought about life off the farm, and the Kitty cried because there was nothing else she could do.

So in the end, the Rooster ignored the beauty and richness of the farm and the friendship of the animals and the love of the Kitty. He did the best job he thought he could do, despite the best advice of everyone around him. And the Rooster, who thought that he wanted nothing more than to be off the farm, was granted his wish.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

And then, he was a wine rep.

In as little as a few minutes, one can go from Barfly to Salesguy. Or so I just learned.

I made my first wine sale today. 10 cases of inexpensive, quality southern French wine and a smattering of Puglianese Super-Tuscan. Who knew that doing what I do (talking about stuff I like) and being properly equipped (bag full of wine) could actually generate funds for me to live on? Isn't that what we're all supposed to do? Find something that you're good at and that you do anyway and figure out how to get paid for it? I suppose, for now.

I realize that I miss my old neighborhood. I got to see folks that I know and have worked for in the past. It makes me smile when people whom I haven't seen in months stop what they are doing, smile, and ask me how I am doing. Its a nice feeling: that feeling of recognition and belonging. Since recently becoming single, I suppose that those feelings: recognition and belonging, have been prioritized higher by my subconscious. Perhaps the need for social interdependence morphs as the social paradigm changes; it makes sense to me.

I got invited out for a drink well past my bedtime. I can tell that I am in for an entirely new set of circumstances that will shape this next and newest segment of my life. Not that I mind being invited out for a drink, or even being out past my bedtime. . .Its just new. No one to answer to. No one to be responsible to. Just me. Interestingly enough, you can be 27 and experience the same sense of Big-worldedness that your 17-year-old self did a decade ago, the only thing that changes are the players and the setting; the rules appear pretty much the same.

On that note, here's to the rules staying the same and a more exciting game for all. If that is the lesson that I get to learn this time around, I will be a grateful man for it. Cheers.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Oh, Brave New World!

It's not as bad as I had imagined.

I am single for the first time in about 6 years. Over the last two weeks, I have been experiencing my world in what could be easily described as a new light, however, nothing with me is easy, so I am going to try exploring.

Coupled with my new lack of a journey partner, I have the clarity that only comes from smoking and drinking less, shocking but true. I have been given to moments of ponderous quietude and impulsive calls to action, definitely refreshing.I have rediscovered my friends; of yet I have to find one that has completely shunned me for my lack of participation, thank you all.

I am reminded of Plato and his exploration of essences: That which persists through change. I have had the ability to note specific details of my life in SF that have remained unchanged, though at times have rested dormant. These times of reflection are welcome, especially since they have been lacking for at least the last 14 months or so.

So here I am, embarking upon my first journey into the Little-Big City completely solo, and I am without fear. I have made it with less; and if this fortification trend continues, I will be a formidable opponent to the forces of entropy and decay. The few of you that I know are reading this, I thank you. Without you it would be much a much lonlier, greyscale existance. Heres to the up-and-up.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

King Corn and the State of a Nation (Abstract)

Examining the American food chain from soil to stomach revealed that federally subsidized corn plays a major role in the lives of nearly all Americans; and for the poorest of us, it literally means life and death. The Federal government spent $3.3 billion to subsidize corn growers in 2008. This subsidy virtually guarantees a nearly-endless supply of cheap, industrial-grade corn for corn processors that turn corn into High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Americans that consume HFCS in quantity (there is an inverse relationship between income and intake) are developing Type II diabetes at a rate of 1 in 3 for Americans born after 2000 (1 in 2 for low-income and minority populations). I was able to model this and show the cycle in action, with the government taxing final healthcare costs of diabetics at the corporate rate of 34%, tallying a return on investment of nearly 2000% for FY2008. Type II Diabetics spent $217B in 2008 on healthcare.

In short, the federal government is profiting by taxing the expenses of Type II Diabetics that originate as a result of overconsumption of corn as a cheap food staple that is subsidized by the government. The bottom line is that we are not supposed to eat the steady stream of ultra-processed sugars and starches that are present in industrialized foods, and the consequence is Type II Diabetes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Take That! Tax and Trade Bureau!

I wrote this piece of reasoning after my Crushpad rep had reservations over my wine label saying "Happiness. . . Bottled".

Regarding the TTB issuing any such judgment based on the word “Happiness” as morally obsequious to the act of imbibing alcohol in excess, I ask for pardon.

D1: For the purposes of this demonstration, I define the term “Happiness” as the pinnacle of achievement in any such physical realm of human interaction by which people may rejoice in their collective merit, so long as it was dedicated to the object that can now be attributed as the focus of said happiness.

D2: may we all agree upon the term “Bottled” as the past tense of the act of containing a substance, and by association, the essence of that which is bottled, within a container appropriate to the substance and its essence.

D3: By “Product” we shall refer to any substance that has come into existence by means of a willful act.

A1: Wine is alive. Such that a living, aspirating organism is able to sustain itself of its basic functions within a medium, it is alive.

A2: The act of making wine is an act of cultivation. From the moment the solution of Vitis Vinifera mass and yeast is exposed to conditions sufficient to support microbial aspiration, the winemaker is responsible for the maintenance of a highly complex relationship between an animal and a plant species. This relationship may be observed in numerous accounts throughout human civilizations and is referred to as agriculture.

P1: The act of cultivating wine requires a great deal of physical and mental exertion, and can thereby be considered stressful. Wine also carries with it need for vast quantities of time and space: namely its aging period, during which it is closely scrutinized and maintained by a team of observers; and its space requirements, 1 barrel of wine is approximately four feet long and can weigh as much as 750 pounds, thus imparting considerable space requirements per barrel.

P2: Compensation for work performed is axiomatic to any Capitalist society and can rightly be viewed by it attribution to Justice. In societies that place value on the final product of said work in the form of currency, it can be agreed that in adequate proportion, the buyer gets what the buyer has paid for. Therefore, in any act by which the producer has marshaled superior labor by which to produce his product, the product of such labor will be superior to the same magnitude, and must confer a cost benefit to the producer.

P3: Compensation from the production of a good comes in at least as many forms as money and happiness. Money insofar as the producer wishes the product to be sold to others. Happiness insofar as the product represents the producer’s ability and the history of that producer in the attainment of the craft which brought said product into existence.

P4: The container appropriate to the product of winemaking is a formed, glass bottle.

C1: By P3 and D1, winemakers are compensated in happiness.

C2: By D2 and P4, the act of winemaking requires the act of bottling wine as a product.

C3: If the product of winemaking must be compensated through happiness and the act of winemaking requires bottling, then the winemaker must undergo compensation as far as the winemaker undergoes bottling. And as the owner of any business may reinvest adequate compensation into the business, the winemaker may reinvest adequate compensation into the bottles.

C4: Therefore, the winemaker, being adequately compensated by happiness from the production of wine, may bottle happiness received from producing said wine in such a manner that the act of imbibing said wine to excess holds no bearing to the intention of conceptualizing, creating or producing said wine.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An Appeal to the Apex.

Thank you, Marty. Apparently, I happen to be a zero. Not a zero in a negative, down-on-myself sort of way; but a zero in the sense that all things happen to be balanced on both sides of me, the apex. In accordance, there also exist ones, and twos, threes and infinitely many orders beyond: but there is only one zero. Now, when I found out that I was a zero, I was taken slightly aback. Why zero?

Over tennis, it was determined that a one is concerned with the minutia, the details; and by contrast, zero is interested in homeostasis, the natural balance, principally neutral to concern for small and mundane details. Much like the first recognized “lover of wisdom” (philo – love, sophy – wisdom)the philosopher Thales in the 500s BCE that fell into a well while gazing into the heavens. The mundane, quite literally, was of no concern to him. Though as a result, Thales is attributed to deriving the first cosmology, inventing the federalist state, and coining the word: soul.

Now, of ones, perhaps it is less important that we understand what they are as what they represent. Imagine the shape of the nautilus, the spiral-shaped shell that helps to explain the naturally occurring pattern of fractals. There is an origin, and points that expand from the origin in a natural pattern of dispersion that creates nearly concentric circles that never fully repeat, accounting for the spiral. If you plot points on this spiral, the ones are the first point in the spiral, from the origin. The one sets the pace and deviation of all subsequent points from the origin, so its placement and magnitude are quite important.

To suggest the existence of twos and threes and the continuation of this infinite system, is to necessarily dismiss the plausibility of a dualistic nature of existence, i.e. all that is and all that is not. As a zero, perhaps it is because I am less concerned with all that is not, and give credence to metaphysics that causes me to pause on the thought of an infinitely increasing system of magnitudes. Perhaps though, as previously noted, zero is the apex. Perhaps the duality still exists, with a perfectly opposed spiral in the opposite direction. Not a double helix, per se, but a center and two opposed spirals, meeting at one origin, the apex. Diametric opposition, to account for the duality of nature and all else.

Hereclitus speaks in fragments about similar opposition, in fact the very existence of one defines its antithesis. Death defines life, color defines blankness. To be alive is to be free of death, to exhibit color is to escape blankness. The crux of this idea is that Logos, the account, is the stuff that holds these opposites together, like the arms of a balance, the zero, the apex.

The importance of the account is of the highest order. The account is the reconciliation of action and reality, its accuracy: justice. The account is uniquely human, the accurate account is truth. The idea of virtue rests squarely upon the shoulders of the account, and its necessity to humanity. Without account, there is no story; without story, there is no history; without history, there is no wisdom. The zero is Logos.

Concern for the minutia then, defines all which is not zero, beginning with one and conversely, negative one. These dual infinite systems then, spiral predicatively outward, encompassing 3s, 10s, 47s, 9,472s and beyond as well as their inverses, toward two indistinct extremes, limits that are not limits: and each set of magnitudes defines the limits for a uniquely different account, with zero in the center acting as the architect.

The suggestion then is this, operating at the extremes of any given system pushes the operator to the furthest possible point from zero and thus balance, account and logos. Perhaps the virtues then, are embodied in the zero, and the pinnacle of wisdom lies at the apex.